Monday, January 23, 2017

Week 16

St. Paul Temple

Boots on the Ground!

Wow this has been quite the eventful week!

We have done a lot of contacting this week and I can see such a big difference between Americans and Hispanics. We've been yelled at and have had doors slammed in our face, but the Hispanic people are so nice and just willing to talk! I love the people here and it's so awesome to meet such humble people.

This week we had two exchanges in a row on Wednesday and Thursday. I got to go to Shoreview and hang with Elder Meyer on Wednesday and take over New Brighton with my "gramps" Elder Nelson on Thursday! They are both awesome elders and Elder Nelson trained my Dad (trainer), Elder Callans, hence why he's my “grandpa” lol. He is a super cool guy and a such a solid missionary. We had a dinner with some members in our ward and their two little kids who are 3 and 1 and they were a riot! It turns out the husband is from Boise too and went to Timberline! He went on a mission to New Mexico Spanish speaking, and it was really cool to connect and talk with their family. Afterwards we went to see a new investigator we have met a few times this week named Luis. We found him while knocking on doors through a trailer park last week. He's from Puerto Rico and has lived in Colorado and Utah for several years, but recently moved over here to Minnesota for construction work. We asked him if he speaks Spanish and he said yes, but he said he prefers English which is a pretty rare find! Haha. We have been teaching him the first discussion and he likes studying the Book of Mormon with the Bible and has a strong desire to learn more, but sadly won't accept an invitation to be baptized because he said he wants to quit smoking, move back to Utah, and get his life straightened out before. Hopefully we can help him understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ can help him change his life and be prepared for baptism.

On Friday we were blessed with the opportunity to go to the St. Paul Temple! We went with our district and a few other districts around St. Paul. It was such a spiritually uplifting experience, one of the highlights of my week. The peace that can be felt from the Holy Spirit is so strong in the temple. I love going to the temple and also seeing all the beautiful temples that are around the world. The temple truly is the house of the Lord! Since we went on a Friday we switched our P-day to that day instead of last Monday. So we did our shopping and hung out with the district at the Institute building and we played song ping pong and pool!

Saturday was a particularly eventful day! In the morning, we helped a couple move to their new apartment. There were some guys from the ward also there to help, and we moved some heavy dressers and bed frames and other furniture. While we were moving, the husband of the family moving was on the back end of carrying a dresser down the stairs and he fell and snapped his ankle! I walked into the room to get the next item and I just saw that his ankle was rotated 120 degrees out of place. It was nuts! Luckily, they rushed him to the hospital and we were able to finish helping them move.

So, for those of you who may not be familiar, our church is structured into wards, or congregations of a specific area of the city - i.e. The New Brighton Ward. And multiple wards constitute a stake, similar to how we have several districts in a zone. Our stake received the sad news that the President of our Stake here in Northeast Minneapolis suddenly passed away from a heart attack this week which was a big shock for everyone. We were able to attend his funeral on Saturday morning and it was absolutely beautiful. It was incredible to see how many peoples’ lives this man touched and how he strived so much to be like Jesus Christ. One thing that stuck with me was something that was said by one of the family members. She said "If you want to take the sorrow out of death you have to take the joy out of life." That's such a true statement, death is a necessary step in our eternal progression. We pass through grief and sorrow in this life so that our joyful reunion with our loved ones after this life will be that much sweeter. It was an awesome experience to feel the Spirit there and be inspired by President's example.

After the funeral, we helped a sister in our ward shovel some ice and slush off her walkway because all the snow is melting and flooding her porch! It's crazy how much snow Boise has and here it feels like spring has arrived already! haha.

I hope you all stay safe and warm back home! I love being a full time representative of Jesus Christ, I know that He lives and He is our Savior! Love you all!

-Elder Bolinder

New Brighton District at St. Paul Temple

New Brighton Sunset

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Week 15

Minneapolis Winter Bike Attire!

Timberwolves or Trailblazers??

This week was a slow one for sure, but it was still an adventure! We share a car with two other missionaries in our district so this week we were on bikes. The good news is it wasn't -10 like it was last week, the bad news is it snowed about 6 inches on Monday and Tuesday. So, we had some fun slipping and sliding through the snow on our bikes and taking a few spills hahaha! Too bad we don't have any dog sleds to help us trail blaze through the streets😂 or motorized ski scooters like they have in Estonia! Luckily, later in the week we were able to get some rides from members to help us out. One of them is a returned missionary from Blackfoot and he served his mission in Nicaragua!

In the past few weeks we have been talking a bit with this older man named Kurt. He had a stroke and was paralyzed and also has some brain damage, but he is a very humble guy and loves talking to us! On Friday we were able to help him move his power wheelchair and some TVs to his apartment. We stayed and talked with him for a bit and found out he was baptized a member of the church in 1985! I guess he couldn't remember much of it because of the memory loss he had from his stroke, but he said he left the church a few years later. We invited him to come to church with us on Sunday and he did! So hopefully we sparked something in him that might remind him of the testimony that he gained and the spirit he felt at his baptism. And we are hoping to help him become active again in the church!

So I feel like I should give a little more detail on our service at Feed My Starving Children. It is a Christian organization who has volunteers come in and help pack rice and soy meals to be sent off to various countries across the globe with hungry children in need. Every Thursday we go as a district to help out and it's so awesome! They have stations with people scooping ingredients into the bag, weighing the bag, sealing it, and then packing it. So, it's basically like this mini assembly line, and we are pretty pro at it, not gonna lie haha. We packed 56 boxes in just one hour! We also get to jam out to some 80s rock playlists lol😂. It's such a fun experience, and not only that, but we are helping make a difference around the world.

Last week we got to have dinner with a recent convert named Al. He's from Tennessee and he is a huuuge guy haha. He fed us this insane deep dish pizza, with giant homemade pizza rolls, and biscuit rolls on the side. This pizza was just absurd.. The layer of cheese on top was at least an inch😂 one of the fattest American meals I will ever eat in my life! He is such a nice guy though, it was amazing to hear his story of meeting with the missionaries and receiving answers through prayer that he gained a testimony of the restored gospel. The gospel has blessed and changed his life forever as it has mine as well!

On Tuesday we went with a return missionary in our ward who served in Costa Rica and we visited a sweet lady from Liberia. Her name was Sarah and she said she absolutely loved to read books and just recently started reading the Bible. She mentioned to us her desire to learn about and read the Book of Mormon as well. She was super receptive and wanted to know all the details and history behind the Book of Mormon and it was awesome! We were able to testify of how the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God and how the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other. She was super excited to start reading it and study from it side by side with the Bible, I was amazed by her enthusiasm to read it! Just like Sarah I have grown to love to search the scriptures. I love to read the stories and testimonies of prophets in the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon, they are just filled with power! I know that as we read and ponder the scriptures daily we can not only be nourished spiritually, but strengthened!

Me gustaría compartir un mensajito espiritual con ustedes: There are two scriptures in the Bible and Book of Mormon that go hand in hand with each other that I love. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 it reads "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." A verse from 2 Nephi 31:20 in the Book of Mormon similarly explains, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." I love reading these scriptures when I am feeling discouraged or when I'm exhausted and feel like giving up. With so many struggles and afflictions in our world today, many people lose sight of their purpose here in this life and lose that brightness of hope. However, if we stand firm in our faith and rely steadfastly on the Lord Jesus Christ, we can receive hope and joy not only in this life but in the life to come. I know that Jesus Christ is our savior and there is always hope in his atonement. In our mortal journey to become like Him, we must press forward and rely on his strength to help us endure to the end. I know this to be true, and I share these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

¡Tengan una semana maravillosa!

-Elder Bolinder

Downtown Minneapolis
Another Shot of Downtown
Minneapolis Skyline at Night

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 14

New Brighton District

"Minni" Miracles

Wow, so I guess Boise stole all the snow from Minnesota this week! All we've had this week is a bright sun, clear skies, and oh yeah... -20 degree wind chill lol. It's so deceiving because it will look so nice out with the sun shining and everything and then you walk out and you get blasted into an icicle. What's weird is that it actually warms up when it snows because the cloud coverage insulates the heat. But either way, I’m loving it here in “Minni” more and more every day!

This week has been a good week. On Wednesday I got to go on splits with another elder in my district, Elder Farish. He was called to be English speaking, but half way through his mission they asked him to learn Cambodian! And he is the only Cambodian speaking missionary in the entire mission. Luckily, we only did English work, but it was super sweet to hear and learn a few things in Cambodian! Also, on Tuesday, the zone leaders had an MLC meeting all day and they are in a trio, so we took another elder under our wing for the day. He just got here last week from Thailand, and he is still learning English so all throughout the day we would teach him some English and tell him all about America. We went out tracting and it was funny to see him with his first experience in below zero weather😂 he said the coldest it got in Thailand was 65! Ohh man I feel bad for him. We had a blast with him, though.

When we were knocking on doors through this trailer park that day, we ran into a welcoming older gentleman named Bill who let us in to warm up. He just about talked our ear off telling us all about how he was trying to save the trailer park that apparently was bought illegally and he's forming a committee to try to fight it in court and all about the flaws of the legal system in America and how the judge misused this statute and on and on. You would think he was Hispanic because he loved to talk so much, but he said he's grown up here in Minnesota all his life. He's an incredibly nice guy! Elder Cardwell and I came back a few days later and gave him the first discussion, and it was super powerful! We bore our testimony and witness of the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Jospeh Smith and the translation of the Book of Mormon and the spirit was so strong! He was really receptive and was super excited to read the Book of Mormon and strengthen his already solid testimony of Jesus Christ. We invited him to be baptized on the 18th of February and he accepted! It was amazing to hear him say how much he appreciated us wanting to further his knowledge and testimony of the gospel and bring him closer to Christ. Such an awesome experience!

Saturday morning we played soccer at 6 en la mañana with some people from the ward. And of course we played it Minnesota style.. indoors😂Nevertheless, it was still fantastic. We had 3 teams rotating and when our team would sit out, we had a buddy on our team named Amado and we would do comentarios en español and he was so hilarious! Haha. Now I feel more like an official Spanish missionary now that I've gotten some good fútbol in!

On Sunday we had a great day! First off, Bill came to church yesterday! That was super exciting for us, and confirmed to us that he genuinely wants to learn more about the restored gospel and prepare for baptism! With so many of our investigators it's hard to tell if they truly are interested in learning about the church or not because of everyone being Minnesota nice. So that really made us happy, and Bill was very happy as well to meet so many awesome people in our ward! Also, in our ward's primary, since they haven't called a new teacher for the 7 year olds yet we got to teach them! That was such a blast. It's funny how your perspective changes over time. Year after year we would always learn the motto 'Choose the Right' and you don't realize the magnitude and importance of that phrase until later in your life. I can see not only in my life, but in visiting with so many other people about their lives the importance of using our agency wisely to make right choices and follow God's commandments.

Later after church we went over to see la famila Condela, and we helped them make Floutas for lunch. It's these crunchy deep fried corn tortillas with shredded chicken inside, and you sprinkle cheese, lettuce, and jalapeño salsa on top and it is just divine! We also watched part of the movie The Best Two Years in Spanish while we were making it, that was exciting haha. They also invited one of their friends over to eat with us and her name was Karina. We got to talk to her all about what we do as missionaries and also taught her about the restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon! This week we have had lots of first discussions and lessons on the Book of Mormon and it has really been such a wonderful experience. I've grown to love testifying of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon because it really is the focal point of my knowledge of the restoration of the gospel. It is another testament of the Lord Jesus Christ and an amazing tool we have to help us grow even closer to our Savior. I love telling people that it is the keystone of our religion, because it's true.

Every question and doubt we have can be answered by a witness that the Book of Mormon is true. If we read and pray with real intent to receive an answer from a God that it's true, we can know that not only that the Book is true, but that Jospeh Smith truly was a prophet called of God to restore the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church that Jesus Christ established on the earth. I can testify to all of you that I have received this witness, and I know that it is true. I have seen the amazing blessings of the gospel in my life and the joy that it brings to me! I hope you guys have a great week this week😊

¡La Iglesia es verdadera!

-Elder Bolinder

Minneapolis Sunset

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Week 13

New Year's Celebration - Macho Man!

¡Área Nueva y Año Nuevo!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

This week has been a great one! Since arriving in my new area of New Brighton, it's been a blast! Saying goodbye to everyone in Lakeville was bittersweet, but I got this awesome baby cactus from the Branch President!!😂 That was pretty sweet.

Okay, a little about my new area. We are right outside the twin cities, basically northeast Minneapolis. It's really awesome because when we drive on the freeway we have a sweet view of the skyline of downtown. I still need to take a good pic of it though. My new companion is Elder Cardwell, and he is a pretty dang funny guy haha. He's from a small farm town in southern Utah, though, so he knows how to work hard! Our ward here is a "magnet ward" which is basically a mix of both English and Spanish. So, more Spanglish work! We actually have been connecting with lots of people from Africa who came here from Liberia, and its trippy because they will be speaking English with their African accents and my mind is trained to pick up Spanish words so I keeping thinking I hear Spanish when they speak English haha! Anyway, the work here is pretty busy and it's been great. We have an investigator named María who we have been meeting with and she is progressing very well toward her baptism on January 28th! We were excited to see her at church on Sunday and her testimony of the gospel has grown a lot!

On my first day here in New Brighton, we got to meet with a less active family and they taught us how to make gorditas! It's basically this deep fried biscuit with cheese and salsa in the middle and it's super good! They had this seven year old kid who was full of energy and would carry around these dumbbells and just do curls for days yelling "Ya have to get MACHO!!" It was so hilarious😂 I guess he just really wants to get ripped liked his dad. So, of course, we took a macho man pic with him!

On Thursday, we got to do service at a food bank place called Feed My Starving Children. It's a huge program where they have volunteers come package food and rice meals for kids in Africa and all around the globe. It was such an awesome experience!

For New Years we were able to visit another less active family, la familia Condela. They fed us more posole and tostadas! They also have a dog who just had four baby puppies that were super cute lol. It was really fun because they also invited the sister missionaries over and there is a sister here who is from Hong Kong, so she is still learning English. It was pretty funny to hear the father speak in broken English to a sister from china also speaking broken English haha. But it was really awesome to talk about our languages and the different traditions for New Years. The Hispanics apparently have a tradition of eating 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the year, and each grape represents good fortune for each month of the new year. Basically, when the ball drops you stuff your mouth with grapes😂 We had a great lesson with them about making goals and the importance of continually striving to become more like Christ. In our mortal journey, we fall short and make mistakes. But, with the power of the atonement of Christ, we can receive the strength we need to progress and eventually become like our Savior Jesus Christ. My favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon (that I like to share a lot) is in Alma 26:12 - "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things." I know this scripture is true, because no matter what difficulties or challenges we face in life, we can do all things with the power and strength of God.

One goal that I have for 2017 is to have more sincere prayers. I have a strong testimony of prayer and have felt the love of our Heavenly Father through heartfelt prayer. I just want to invite all of you to sincerely pour out your heart to God in prayer. Especially in this season of the new year when we are setting goals and striving to improve, we can always call on him for the strength to push on. I know that He loves us and is always aware of us and He will answer every prayer. I know that our Father in Heaven sent us to this earth to learn and grow and won't give us any trial or hardship we can't overcome.

May God bless all of you as we venture into this amazing new year! Cuídense mi amigos. ¡Prospero año y felicidad!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Cardwell and Elder Bolinder
New Year's Eve Dinner
Cactus From Branch President
New Year's Celebration!
New Brighton
Minneapolis Skyline